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How did we help a local start-up have a global impact?

Find out how we helped scale up an on-demand shuttle service to transform the daily commute in some of the world’s busiest cities.

One of the most pressing issues facing today’s big cities is how to get their growing populations to work each day without increasing the gridlock, pollution and stress this entails. A global automotive manufacturer is trying to tackle this challenge by expanding its core business to include new future of mobility solutions.

In 2016, our client acquired a start-up that had developed an on-demand shuttle service, which was operating successfully in one US city. The service offers ride-sharing shuttles, which help move people around routes that aren’t well served. As well as being offered directly to commuters, the service is marketed to companies to enable them to transport their employees to the workplace in the most efficient way possible.

Our client’s aim was to roll out this system in other cities around the world, generating a return on investment and positioning itself as a key player in the smart mobility market.

Scaling up without falling down

However, our client had little experience of either scaling up start-ups, or working with cities to deliver this type of service. It also lacked local, on-the-ground knowledge of the cities in which it was planning to launch. As a result of EY’s experience in all these areas, the client called us in for a 12-week project to plan all aspects of scaling the business, bringing rigour and robustness to the process.

Our solution was three-fold. First, we explored the start-up’s processes and procedures to find out whether they were robust enough to be scaled to multiple cities. We then codified those processes into a playbook that could be used to set up the service in other cities, providing guidelines on everything from registering for business licenses to hiring local team members.

The second stage was to help the client analyse the cities it wanted to launch in. Here we used a proven EY methodology to determine where to run the service in each city – mapping the location to analyse demand, the adequacy of existing services and economic viability.

Meanwhile, we helped our client market the service to large companies who could use it to bring their employees to work. This involved creating a marketing campaign, training sales people how to sell to enterprises, developing pitch books and introducing sales people to our clients.

Cutting congestion in cities

With our support, the client has been able to successfully launch the service in two more cities, and is poised to roll it out to others around the world.

In the cities where it operates so far, the service is delivering benefits such as reducing congestion, cutting pollution and increasing employee productivity. Each vehicle can hold 12 commuters, which means taking up to 12 private cars off the road for every journey. Scale that up to multiple journeys in multiple locations, and the potential to improve the quality of life in cities is huge.


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